For kids and teens, learning about culture expands their perspective of the world and deepens their understanding and empathy for the experiences of others. Which is why families and educators should bring the fun of Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month to the classroom, story time, TV or dinner table this fall.
What is Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month?
Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans past and present. While it’s a monthlong celebration, it notably crosses over two calendar months – running Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th – coinciding with the Independence Day celebrations of Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month?
This month of cultural recognition is a time for Americans who identify as Latino or Hispanic to celebrate and share their traditions.
About a quarter of all Boys & Girls Club members identify as Latino or Hispanic and find inclusive spaces at their Club to celebrate their identities and cultures.
But even if your family doesn’t hail from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central or South America, you can still participate in the month by engaging in learning and cultural experiences that bring you a little closer to these countries and their diverse communities. Sharing other people’s cultures with your kids helps build their respect and curiosity, in addition to helping them understand the vastness of the world we live in.
Ways to celebrate Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month with kids
Here are some ideas to kick off Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month activities and cultural celebration with the young people in your life:
Dish up some delicious flavors.
From pull-apart arepas filled with savory ingredients to learning the Spanish word for meatball – albóndiga
– before digging into one, your young chef can try out Latin American flavors in the kitchen
. If your kid is already a big fan of Mexican food, cook with and discuss the spices and ingredients that make these dishes special, such as cumin and paprika, corn, chili peppers, shredded beef and chicken, beans, tomatoes and more.
Try your hand at a new game.
If your kid enjoys a game of chance, then odds are they’ll enjoy the card game Lotería
. Mexico’s version of Bingo, Lotería has a caller pull cards from a shuffled deck and players must match the item called (such as el arbol
– the tree, or el camaron
– the shrimp) with what’s on their game board. When they’ve got a row, the winner shouts “¡Buena!”
to end the game.
Learn about traditions of celebrations.
How communities celebrate can say a lot about them. Is food a major element? Music (and if so, what kind)? Do people dance? Do they wear special clothing and jewelry? Is it just for the family or is the whole neighborhood invited? Take some time to explore Hispanic and Latino traditions around celebrations
. Piñatas will be a hit with younger kids, and older kids can learn the fascinating background of Día de Muertos (which falls early in November) and how Latin American teenage girls celebrate their 15th birthdays with quinceañeras.
Read books by Hispanic and Latino authors.
Whatever the age of your reader, there are plenty of books to explore
by Hispanic and Latino authors. For young readers, try “Where Are You From?” by Yamile Saied Méndez
, which tells the story of a girl who constantly gets asked where she is from, and the insight her grandfather shares about her identity.
Make it a movie night.
Kid-friendly movies that explore Hispanic and Latino culture are perfect for movie night. The hit movie “Encanto” is set in Colombia, so while kids watch the magical family Madrigal, they’ll also get to see Colombian fashion, architecture, animals and food, and learn some Spanish words along the way. Add 2017 animated film “Coco” to your queue, which was inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. Need a few more movie picks throughout the month? Check out these other kid-friendly movie options
Hit the dance floor.
If your kid considers every room a dance floor, it’s time to introduce them to the vibrancy of Latino dance styles. They might enjoy learning the basic steps of salsa dancing
or mimicking these fun, Spanglish-taught cumbia moves
to add some new moves to their repertoire.
Celebrating Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month with the young people in your life is a great way to learn about other people’s cultures and customs while deepening respect for diversity and inclusion.
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This article was previously posted on 9/1/2021 and updated on 6/13/2022.